An investigative journalist, Brianna Sacks, from Washington Post, has uncovered and exposed more corruption by Florida’s insurance companies than the entire state paid for insurance investigators and regulators whose job it is to protect Floridians from such behavior. The article, Insurers cut Hurricane Ian payouts well below damage estimates, documents and insiders reveal, can make many say, “look at all the claims corruption Florida insurance companies. This is scandalous!” The sad question the article raises is:
Why do Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Republican politicians stand behind and support every law desired and written by these corrupt insurance companies that are ripping off Floridians?
The article specifically noted that Florida Republican politicians are doing nothing after receiving the shocking information about insurance companies committing fraud against their own customers:
Asks lawmakers to take action
In the past year, Florida Republicans called two special legislative sessions focused on the state̵7;s insurance industry and passed more laws that further protect and insulate property insurance companies, largely at the expense of homeowners. Two major industry wins include transferring $1 billion in taxpayer money to a reinsurance fund and preventing carriers from having to pay policyholders’ attorneys’ fees when they sue.
At the December session, Lee, Mandell, Vinson and other adjusters joined residents to speak out against the legislation. Their testimony was covered by the Insurance Journal.
After Mandell accused insurance companies of fraudulent behavior that is “more widespread than any of us could have imagined,” state Rep. Bob Rommel (R), the chairman of the Commerce Committee, asked the group of adjusters to come to his office later with that information ‘to ensure that the prosecutor and [Office of Insurance Regulation] take care of it.’
They did. And according to four people present, Rommel asked to see evidence and told the group, ‘If this is really happening, this has to be taken care of,'” Lee recalled. Vinson had brought a flash drive with dozens of files to show, but the representative said it was not secure for a government computer.
The next day, Dec. 14, Mandell emailed Rommel’s office with the evidence the lawmaker requested, including a four-document file showing how his $40,468.54 damage estimate was revised to show $2,658. “You will notice they left my name on this fake estimate,” the adjuster wrote in the email, obtained by The Washington Post.
In an email, Rommel told The Post that the adjusters came to his office without evidence. Told them the door was open if they could produce the evidence. After several emails from The Post, Rommel’s office said it had forwarded the adjuster’s email to the state’s chief financial officer, Jimmy Patronis, and that Patronis’ office will contact Mandell.
“We have asked the CFO’s office to keep us updated,” a Rommel spokesperson said. The CFO’s office said in a statement that it has received the information from Rommel, met with the property owners from the report and that “an investigation is currently open and ongoing.”
Of course, nothing was done.
This is not a new problem as revealed by the Washington Post. I have noted many instances of these corrupt claim practices, such as i Why property insurance claims are underpaid and independent disaster adjusters are leaving the field?, and Do independent property claims adjusters need more legal protection from unethical managers. So why is nothing being done to stop it?
Florida’s insurance industry apparently controls Florida’s Republican leadership. Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, is dictating what the Republican leadership will do. He has and currently supports insurance companies and new laws that remove protections for ordinary people who are abused by their insurance companies’ faulty claims practices.
To me, this is a sad state of affairs. For readers unfamiliar with my politics, I am a registered Republican and was a member of the Republican Governors Association. Holding criminals accountable for their wrongful acts and abuses is a core conservative value that seems to be forgotten when it comes to the extreme amounts of lobbying money that can be collected by the insurance industry. Florida Republican leadership is lost and misguided on these issues of insurance company malfeasance. Nothing is being done to stop the abuse because Florida’s Republican leaders are on the wrong side. They support laws that make it easier and more profitable for insurance companies to do this.
I will be at the Win The Storm conference this week. One of the panels I will be on features Republican Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. I’m sure the issue of prosecuting insurance adjusters and companies for this type of behavior will be raised. Hope to see you there. We can learn what her thoughts are about this abuse and what she intends to do about it.
Journalism is the protection between people and some form of totalitarian rule. That’s why my hero, albeit a flawed one, is a journalist.
– Andrew Wachss